Danica Patrick posted her career-best NASCAR Sprint Cup Series finish when she placed 24th in Sunday's AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Patrick (No. 10 GoDaddy Racing Chevrolet) topped her 25th-place finish at Chicago by just one position, but the performance appeared to be markedly better as she ran consistently in the top 20 in the second half of the race and finished on the lead lap for the first time in nine career Sprint Cup starts. She also could have secured a higher finishing position had she not lost several positions on the last two restarts.
It also was a promising start of the relationship with her new Stewart-Haas crew chief Tony Gibson. This was the first race for them together, prepping this combination for her full-time Sprint Cup schedule in 2013.
"We had a really nice weekend," Patrick said. "It was really steady from the beginning. The car unloaded and it had speed right off the get go. We just kept improving on it. I felt like it was a nice progression of the weekend where I actually felt like I knew why I went faster and I knew why I went slower.
"We spent most of the race tight, but there late in the race we finally got it freed up enough to start really running some good speed. Those yellows at the end - I just didn't do a good enough job on those restarts and lost a whole bunch of spots. I always feel so defeated at the end of the race when that happens. It was a really nice first weekend with the new GoDaddy crew. Tony Gibson did such a good job. I'm really looking forward to next year."
Gibson moved over to Patrick this past weekend after spend four years as the crew chief for Patrick's Stewart-Haas Racing teammate, Ryan Newman.
"She had an awesome race and she did a great job," Gibson said. "She ran with guys that she's never run with before-Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman and Denny Hamlin. To come here and run on the lead lap and have a shot at a top 20 was pretty impressive."
Patrick closes out her limited 10-race Sprint Cup Series season schedule this weekend at Phoenix.